for my brother-in-law
You said, "Waves rolling through ether,"
and I remembered tonsils, a bell of cold
sweet air ringing.
"No," you said, "the ether that's everywhere —
air's plasma, waves . . ."
Ocean, I was thinking, sand,
my father's dry hand — but a crystal set?
That sounded like
ice and snow and electric trains.
You knew how waves came
so between the dying elms
you strung a wire where a
grackle swayed, oblivious,
but I could see them — snakes of air,
crystalline, whispering . . .
Then we wound the lacquered copper
thin as a hair round & around
an empty tissue spool,
"secret sleeve" you said,
"for tricking ghosts."
How soul gets
in a stone remains
another mystery you took with you.
"Lead crystal," you said, "by magic
changes waves to voice — to me
just another stone for my collection.
And you said a safety pin would make
a wand, "a cat's whisker tickling out the music."
Or Randy Blake on WJJD,
"The Prairie Farmer Station" from Chicago,
first time our ground wire touched the sky
though tonight, remembering that voice,
I'm no closer to accepting
that you're gone — cat's whisker
picking at a stone, all I get is static
and a loss for words.